It’s hard to believe that August 16-18 is the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic cultural events in U.S. history. Woodstock was so much more than a concert. Rather, it was a coming of age for baby boomers. It set the tone for music, fashion, culture, and politics for decades to come. For those who attended, Woodstock was life-changing. For those that watched from afar, it provided great hope that a generation could come together in peace and understanding. Oticon pays tribute to this generation in our unending commitment to improving and enhancing their life, health, and hearing.
As the 50-year anniversary of Woodstock quickly approaches, a new survey conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by Oticon, Inc. has found an unintended consequence of that generation’s love for hard-charging, culture-changing rock and roll.
The online survey, which was conducted in June among more than 1,000 U.S. adults age 65-80, “The Woodstock Generation,” found a whopping 47% who report listening to loud or very loud music in their youth (i.e., in their teens and 20s) now report hearing loss. For a generation defined by their love of music (71% report music was one of the most important things to them when they were young), hearing loss may now be denying many of them the opportunity to continue to enjoy the music of yesterday and today.
The survey reveals:
- 36% report their hearing loss now negatively impacts their ability to listen to music at least a little
- 70% of those with hearing loss wish they could still experience music the way they did when they were young
- 47% of those with hearing loss say they don’t enjoy music as much as they used to
Time to face the music
Howard Groopman was 18 years old when he made the trek from his home in New York City to Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York to witness music history. “The entire experience was an important chapter in my life,” said Groopman. “I went there for the music and got to see the greatest rockers of all time. To be part of a happening and sharing in peace and love with others of my generation gave me great hope and inspiration for the future.”
Groopman admits he has been to a couple hundred concerts and has been a heavy music listener throughout his life. He even purchased dozens of rock albums from Woodstock musicians after the iconic festival.
Groopman now says he has trouble comprehending some speech, and he often relies on closed captioning to ensure he doesn’t miss any dialogue. In fact, at a recent appointment with a hearing care provider, Groopman was diagnosed with mild to moderate hearing loss.
“As part of the exam, I wore a set of temporary hearing aids and listened to a few songs. It was amazing how much better the notes sounded,” Groopman added. [For an archive of photos from actual Woodstock attendees, including Howard Groopman, click here.]
The impact of hearing loss doesn’t end with music enjoyment. The survey revealed other areas where the Woodstock Generation struggles with hearing:
- 52% have difficulty understanding what is being said in loud environments like busy restaurants at least sometimes
- 40% have needed statements repeated in conversations at least sometimes
- 40% have missed words in a conversation at least sometimes
- 41% say hearing loss negatively impacts their ability to participate in social activities/gatherings at least a little
- 38% say hearing loss negatively impacts relationships with family or friends at least a little
“The survey results demonstrate the far-reaching consequences of loud music listening on hearing health,” said Gary Rosenblum, President of Oticon, Inc. “That’s an important message for young people today. Fifty years ago, people thought turning up the volume and seeking out concerts with the biggest speakers made the music more enjoyable. Today, we know the long-term effects of noise on hearing health and the importance of protecting hearing to maintain the ability to enjoy music and conversation. This is vital to your overall quality of life.”
Despite hearing challenges, many members of the Woodstock Generation have not taken steps to address their hearing loss. The majority of these adults (70%) have never seen a hearing care professional specifically about their hearing. Only around one in 10 (12%) have used hearing aids either currently or in the past.
“Many in the Woodstock Generation could enjoy music again and live fuller lives if they address their hearing loss,” said Rosenblum. “The hearing aids of today are sophisticated, high-performance devices that do more than amplify sound. They allow wearers to experience music, sounds, and life in a natural way. For instance, the Oticon Opn S hearing aid provides wearers with access to a full range of sounds, allowing wearers to enjoy a richer, more authentic music experience.”